Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, senior rabbi of...

Rabbi Harold M. Schulweis, senior rabbi of Encino’s Valley Beth Shalom, warns that the health of American society is endangered by a “bolder verbal vulgarity” expressed today on some television talk shows and only somewhat less crudely in politics.

“Consider the rise of newer talk shows who substitute hooting, jeering and hollering for dialogue, discussion and debate,” Schulweis wrote in the current issue of the Jewish Journal, a news weekly published in Los Angeles.

The Morton Downey Jr. Show, taped in New York, “has surpassed Wally George’s exhibitionism,” said the rabbi, referring in the second case to a Southern California-based talk show host known for his right-wing views. Comparing Downey’s format to a primitive religious ritual, Schulweis wrote:

“A sadomasochistic link is established between a voracious host intent on eating alive the invited scapegoat guest in a sacrificial rite before a mob encouraged to call for blood,” Schulweis said.


Whether the issues are political, racial or ethnic, the “amenities of civil conversation” are discarded, he said, often with the defense that the rowdy manner is part of the fun. But Schulweis said, “The humor of demeanment and insult elevated as appropriate political exercise degrades the civic process and raises cynicism among our citizens.”

Personal attacks and slurs in political campaigns are common. But Schulweis said that if the new talk-show crassness shows up as strongly in elections, it will “shred the crazy-quilt of a society held together by the weave of mutual respect. . . . Candidates, their advisers and their parties must be taught to exercise moral self-restraint for the health of our society.”


About 120 international officers of the Salvation Army will open an 11-day meeting Tuesday at Lake Arrowhead. Led by Gen. Eva Burrows, the conference is supposed to be an agenda-setting meeting that will, among other things, review the London-based organization’s Articles of War. They include an 11-point statement of Christian doctrine and seven rules of conduct. “I don’t think the basic tenets of the Army will change, but more than a dozen years ago we added that members couldn’t smoke. We might rephrase some things to bring it up to the language of the day,” said Commissioner Willard S. Evans, territorial commander for the western states. The Army’s top brass will take over the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove next Saturday evening. Burrows will speak during a musical “salute” featuring the Salvation Army Tournament of Roses Band and Timbrelists and a 100-voice chorus. The 6 p.m. event is open to the public.


Black churches in most cities on the verge of losing their role as the core cultural experience for the next generation of black leaders, and the social consequences--drug abuse, teen-age pregnancy, homicides--can be seen across this country, according to a Washington Post report on a conference this week called “Atlanta ’88-Congress for Evangelizing Black America.” The Rev. George McKinney, a prominent Church of God in Christ pastor in San Diego, gave the convention’s opening speech: “A whole segment of Christians are only Christian by family or tradition.” McKinney said the church’s troubling situation has brought “a very large number of pastors to the brink of despair.” He said the dropout rate for ministers in some denominations is as high as 25%. For some clerics, the city’s problems have taken a personal toll; six sons of San Diego-area ministers have been killed in drug-related incidents in the last 2 1/2 years, he said.


Robert G. den Dulk, who has been administrative vice president of Westminster Theological Seminary of California since the Escondido school was organized independently in 1982, has been named its second president. Den Dulk, a member of the Christian Reformed Church, will be installed Friday at the 150-student school to succeed the Rev. Robert B. Strimple, an Orthodox Presbyterian minister who resigned to pursue full-time teaching and writing at the seminary. The school was begun in 1980 by the Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia.



Coptic Catholic rites will be celebrated at 11:30 a.m. Sunday in North Hollywood in honor of this week’s visit of Stephanos II, patriarch of Alexandria for the Egyptian church, according to the Coptic Catholic Community based in Glendale. Coptic was the predominant Egyptian language before Arabic gradually replaced it by the 10th Century.